Millions of people are obsessed with perfection. This obsession makes it difficult to make a decision without wasting too much time analyzing every detail.
Don’t get me wrong, it pays to get things right. But when you can’t launch any idea because you don’t have the perfect one yet, or you can’t show your work to the rest of the world because you haven’t perfected the product or service, something’s wrong.
Author and Playwright George Bernard Shaw sums it up perfectly:
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
You will make mistakes, hurt others, and get hurt. Big ones, little ones, ones you can fix, and others you can’t. Seriously—you’re going to mess up at some point, no matter how proactive you are. It’s inevitable.
Unless you do nothing.
So, stop chasing perfection. Screwing up is part of life and success—the more you experience it, the better (within reason, of course). It’s hard to achieve something worthwhile when you play it safe.
If you’re not convinced, here are four reasons why it’s completely OK to miss the mark sometimes:
1. Done Is Better Than Perfect
The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done.
No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. So, give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.
2. We Learn, Grow, and Shift When We Make Mistakes
Our minds are a bit funny and full of cognitive biases that’ve been shaped over time by our experiences, events, and memories. Over time, your beliefs can cause your brains to draw false conclusions about life that affects the way you think and the decisions you make.
Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes, “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
Mistakes give us the courage and knowledge to make better decisions—and help us avoid making more of them going forward.
3. You (Almost) Always Have More Than One Shot
I’ve screwed up many, many times in the past, but I’ve always moved on.
The biggest screw-up you can make is to just give up and accept that you can’t succeed because it didn’t turn out well the first time around. If you’re going through hell, don’t stop. And if you catch hell, don’t hold it.
4. You Get Permission to Start Over
The world is waiting for you to stop asking for permission, stop questioning yourself, and pick yourself up and start over.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it matters that you start again.
Ultimately, screwing up doesn’t mean you’ll never, ever be successful. Making a mistake will not irreparably damage your credibility or reputation.
Remember: being completely terrible at something is the first step to being pretty darn good at it.
Heidi Grant Halvorson, social psychologist at Columbia’s Motivation Science Center and author of No One Understands You and What to Do About It, recommendations the following steps to shifting your mindset, and freeing yourself from the fear of mistakes:
- Begin a new project by explicitly acknowledging what’s difficult and unfamiliar, and accepting that you’ll need some time to really get a handle on it.
- Reach out to others when you run into trouble. Too often, we hide our mistakes, rather than sharing them with those who could give us guidance. Mistakes don’t make you look foolish—but acting like you’re a born expert on everything certainly will.
- Try not to compare your own performance to other people’s (I know this is hard, but try.) Instead, compare your performance today to your performance last week, last month, or last year. You may make mistakes, you may not be perfect, but are you improving? That’s the only question that matters.
It’s okay to screw up, just don’t give up!
This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of person defeated courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.